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Author Topic: Can lead prevent the spread of radiation poisoning?  (Read 3789 times)

Offline thedoc

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dhananjay kumar singh asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Can any compounds of lead can be made radiation absorber,or can we prevent the spread of radiation during nuclear reactor blasts by showering or raining the high density of liquid of lead compounds from the height or area around the blasts site in such a way that the liquid form a coating around the fragments of nuclear material so that the radiation should not come out of the coating.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 07/01/2015 12:30:01 by _system »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Can lead prevent the spread of radiation poisoning?
« Reply #1 on: 07/01/2015 15:41:33 »
Lead is good at protecting against gamma rays and neutron radiation (protecting people who are nearby).
It is generally toxic since it replaces iron in the blood, and perhaps also interacts with nerves and the brain.

As far as nuclear reactor meltdowns like Fukushima and Chernobyl, there are a few issues.  One is the direct impact at the site which could remain contaminated for a very long time.  A lead blanket, and recovering with clean soil may be of some benefit, except as mentioned that Lead is also toxic, and could even impact water supplies.  If one wishes to repopulate the area, a full soil remediation process would be much preferable.

The second issue is the spread of radiation via the spread of radioactive materials, for example airborne or in the water.  Fukushima had been leaking radioactive materials into the sea for a very long time (is it still occurring).  For this, Lead would be of little or no benefit beyond being a low melting point sealant.  An epoxy or less toxic material would do the job of a sealant just as well or better.  They were even planning on experimenting with ice barriers at Fukushima.
 

Offline Pecos_Bill

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Re: Can lead prevent the spread of radiation poisoning?
« Reply #2 on: 08/01/2015 23:10:40 »
If you ingest a beta-emitting isotope such as those of Strontium or Cersium it could be a one-way ticket to stiff city.

I disremember the name of the Russian dissident who died several years ago after he was poisoned with a teeny-tiny dose of radioactive Polonium after having lunch with an "old pal" from Russia. The angels definitely didn't show up in a Rolls and waft him off to heaven, you know.  Lead wouldn't have prevented anything for him.

As to lead shielding to attenuate radiation flux - my personal preference would be to get my buns down into the deepest parking garage and/or cellar I can find if and when Al Qaeda explodes a dirty bomb up wind. Distance attenuates radiation, so that an interior hallway in an intact sealed up wood frame house might be your best bet.

Much better than a crowded platform of the tube.
 

Offline syhprum

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Re: Can lead prevent the spread of radiation poisoning?
« Reply #3 on: 09/01/2015 13:19:22 »
The tsunami that damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant killed at least 15000 people yet all we hear is about the radiation from the damaged power station which does not as yet have caused any deaths.
The effort would be better spent in educating people how to respond to tsunami and installing warning systems instead of worrying about radiation.
 

Offline jeffreyH

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Re: Can lead prevent the spread of radiation poisoning?
« Reply #4 on: 09/01/2015 13:23:14 »
The tsunami that damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant killed at least 15000 people yet all we hear is about the radiation from the damaged power station which does not as yet have caused any deaths.
The effort would be better spent in educating people how to respond to tsunami and installing warning systems instead of worrying about radiation.

Well said.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can lead prevent the spread of radiation poisoning?
« Reply #5 on: 10/01/2015 01:27:35 »
Lead isn't particularly useful in an incident. What matters is to get lots of mass of anything between you and it, and sand is a lot easier to find, transport and remove.  Ilmenite and barium sands are excellent but probably more difficult to obtain than lead, whereas ordinary builders' sand is already packed in bags and trucks all over the world.

Not sure about "responding" to a tsunami. It's moving at around 500 mph so you will be lucky to get more than an hour's warning, and since the only response is to evacuate, you'd probably be safer sitting in your upstairs room than dicing with a million other hysterical  road users.     
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Can lead prevent the spread of radiation poisoning?
« Reply #6 on: 10/01/2015 11:46:34 »
Lead is good at protecting against gamma rays and neutron radiation (protecting people who are nearby).
It is generally toxic since it replaces iron in the blood, and perhaps also interacts with nerves and the brain.

Lead isn't good at blocking neutrons.
It doesn't replace iron in the blood- it screws up enzymes, typically by binding to thiol groups or mimicking calcium.
 

Offline syhprum

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Re: Can lead prevent the spread of radiation poisoning?
« Reply #7 on: 10/01/2015 21:56:49 »
My son has a high apartment on the east coast of Australia near Brisbane providing the building is well built the best thing he can do when he gets a tsunami warning is to lock his front door.
« Last Edit: 10/01/2015 21:58:54 by syhprum »
 

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Re: Can lead prevent the spread of radiation poisoning?
« Reply #7 on: 10/01/2015 21:56:49 »

 

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